How Does Albuterol Work?
Albuterol is a bronchodilator, the active ingredient being albuterol sulfate, which relaxes smooth muscle in the human airway. Therefore, it rapidly opens breathing passages for users who experience the symptoms listed above and improves the flow of oxygen into the respiratory system and the flow of carbon dioxide and waste gases out of the respiratory system. Because albuterol works so quickly, the patient’s own medication is often administered by emergency ambulance crews when they respond to breathing emergencies, and albuterol is frequently given in the emergency room as well, usually via nebulizer. Most users of albuterol carry it in inhaler form to use as needed throughout the day.
What Are the Common Doses for Albuterol?
The dosing of albuterol varies depending on the route of administration. For oral dosing (except the extended-release tablets), the regimen is as follows: for adults and children 12 and older, 2 or 4 mg 3-4 times per day, with a maximum of 32 mg per day; for children ages 6-12, 2 mg 3-4 times per day, with a maximum of 24 mg per day; for children 2-6 years old, dosing is weight based, usually 0.1 mg/kg of body weight, 3 times per day, with a maximum of 2 mg per dose or 12 mg per day; and for children under 2 years, dosing is per physician orders.
Albuterol dosing for extended release tablets is as follows: for adults and children 12 and up, 8 mg every 12 hours, with a maximum of 32 mg per day; for children 6-12 years old 4 mg every 12 hours, with a maximum of 24 mg per day, and children under 6 years old are dosed per physician orders.
Each dose of an albuterol inhaler puff contains 90 micrograms of albuterol. The standard
inhaler dose for adults and children ages 4 and up is 2 puffs every 4-6 hours as needed, or prior to exercise, for exercise-induced asthma. Children under 4 years old are dosed per their physicians’ recommendations.
When taking albuterol via nebulizer, the standard dosing regimen is as follows: for adults and children 12 and up, 2.5 mg 3-4 times per day; for children 2-12, 0.63-1.25 mg 3-4 times per day; and for children under 2, dosing follows physician orders.
Intravenous albuterol is supplied in 5 ml ampoules. For severe bronchospasm in patients from 12 years old to adult, it is dosed at 3-20 micrograms per minute, titrated to patient size and condition. Use in patients under 12 has not been established.
For intravenous use in women to prevent premature labor, albuterol is run at 10-45 micrograms per minute, titrated to stop contractions with minimal side effects, particularly changes to maternal heart rate.
What Are the Symptoms of Albuterol Overdose?
Sometimes users of albuterol can use too much of the drug if it does not provide the relief they expect immediately. Signs of overdose include extreme versions of many common side effects of the drug, such as heart palpitations (irregular heartbeat), nervousness, shaking, dry mouth, and nausea. Other signs of overdose include seizures, chest pain, excessive tiredness, difficulty falling asleep, and headache.